Will Diet Pills or Supplements Help Me Lose Weight?

I want to lose some weight (about 10-20 lbs) and I am wondering if any diet pills or supplements will help me. The only ones I've heard of are Alli and Hydroxycut-- do those work? Are there better weight loss pills out there? I would like to use something that won't cause any gross side effects. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Doctor Answers 5

No weight loss tricks

Unfortunately there are no tricks.

There are some medications that attempt to increase your metabolism (stimulants) or change your aborption of calories -- typically blocking fat absorption.

While the mechanics of these make sense many times they are not associated with long term significant fat loss.

The best way to handle it is increasing your activity and decreasing your caloric intake.

I hope this helps.

San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Weight Loss - Holiday Fat Gain

Research data shows that the average American gains 8 pounds during the holidays. The latest scientific data shows that in cardiovascular medicine, it is not necessarily body weight that is important to health but your cardiovascular fitness. That is to say, you will probably live longer if you target your HDL to be 100 or 80 or 70 as opposed to 40 or less.

So, weight is important to your look but not so important for your longevity. It has been shown that morbid obesity surgery reduces the risk of death from obesity with body mass index being an important stratificator of mortality, but try to lose weight with your focus being:

  • Improving your HDL
  • Lowering your LDL
  • Lowering your total cholesterol
  • Lowering your triglycerides
  • Normalizing your glucose level and HbA1c if you are a diabetic
  • Increasing your exercise capacity, etc.

Hratch Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Buffalo Phlebologist
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Balanced Diet and Exercise


Basically, the best way to loose weight is a balanced diet and regular exercise. If you take the time to document your caloric intake, you will likely find that it is more than you would predict. That said, there are many "diet pills" out there. The stimulant based products such as Hydroxycut can lead to jitteriness. The anti-absorptive products such as Alli can lead to malabsorption and also, if your lipid intake is too great, can lead to yellow staining and leakage - yes it is gross.

Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
Shafer Plastic Surgery

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Is there a Role for Diet Medications for Moderate Weight Loss?

The short answer is Yes. Thankfully, there has been a large amount of research performed recently in the area of prescription diet medications. One breakthrough has been the combining of medications which have been around for many years but were routinely used alone, as single agents. Based on both clinical trials and my own patient experience, the synergistic effects of these combinations are a big improvement. There is also a new line of pharmaceuticals that are based on known physiologic mechanisms of hunger suppression. The initial agent is a synthetic version of the hormone that the human body makes which generates satiety (the suppression of hunger.)  The other positive development is that these drugs are FDA approved for long term, uninterrupted use. The issue with all of these pharmaceuticals is that if not covered by insurance, they can cost several hundred dollars per month (out of pocket.)  We have found ways in my practice to cut these costs significantly.  There are no over the counter medications with any demonstrated effectiveness that are suitable for long term, uninterrupted use. The older FDA approved agents that create fat malabsorption play essentially no role in my practice due to lack of patient tolerance for long term use. Any pharmaceutical agent can create side effects and your prescribing physician should review in detail those possibilities with each agent individually.   

George R. Merriman II, MD
Shreveport Bariatric Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Balance Is Key

I have many patients who ask me for advice on how to lose weight and get healthy.  For long term sustainable weight loss, balance is key.  Diet is the most helpful for weight loss, and exercise for toning and metabolism.  For my patients, I direct them to our in-office nutritionist who helps them find that balance of diet and exercise.  There are lots of diet pills out there, but many have unwelcome side effects, so be sure to talk with your primary care doctor to get recommendations and know the facts.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.